The Life Of Kurt Vonnegut Essay Research

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The Life Of Kurt Vonnegut Essay, Research Paper The life of Kurt Vonnegut was filled with great accomplishments and great tragedies. The biggest tragedy that he faced had to be the fire bombing of Dresden in World War II. This is the topic of his book Slaughterhouse-Five. The book talks about one of Vonnegut’s friends who slips in and out of reality, having flashbacks of the experience at Dresden. Kurt Vonnegut was born in November of 1922 in Indianapolis. This is where he eventually met and married Jane Cox. Vonnegut’s life has been a struggle, starting with his mother’s constant bouts with depression. In 1943, when Vonnegut enlisted, his mother’s depression grew deeper. Because of that Private Vonnegut asked permission to visit home to surprise her on Mother’s

Day. She overdosed on sleeping pills the night before he arrived (Walker 206). Surprisingly, this tragedy was overshadowed by another incident in his life that happened just a year and a half after his mother’s death, the fire bombing of Dresden. In late 1944, Vonnegut was captured by Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. On the night of February 13, 1945 exactly 100 American P.O.W.’s and five German soldiers took shelter in a meat locker while the Royal Air Force joined by U.S bombers attacked and successfully annihilated the city of Dresden in one of the most vicious air raids ever. The firestorm left over 130,000 people dead and many more missing. This event became a major influence in his writing career (”The Biographies of Kurt Vonnegut” 775). Vonnegut started

writing novels in 1947, when he went to work for General Electric Research Laboratory. The job gave him the storyline for his first novel Player Piano. In 1951, he resigned from his job at G.E to pursue a full time writing career. He wrote many short stories, which in 1969 were assembled into a collection called Welcome to the Monkey House. The next novel was Cat’s Cradle in 1963, then The Sirens of the Titans and God Bless you, Mr. Rosewater in 1965 (Litz, 758). 3 In Sluaghterhouse-Five, Vonnegut conveys the message that World War II was fought by children. He makes the vivid image of 17 and 18 year old boys in a far away place fighting for their country. That is the reason for the popular alternative title for the book, The Children’s Crusade. Vonnegut was one of the oldest

men in his unit at 20 years old. He tells how he got captured by three German soldiers, one 25 and the other two 12 and 13 years old. At the end of the book as Vonnegut and the other men walk through what used to be Dresden, he doesn’t know how to feel, having just been bombed by his own country (Litz 768). The book is not just about the war, but mostly about an outcast of society named Billy Pilgrim who travels through time from the present to the past, all in his own head, though it all seems very real to him. He believes that he has this ability because of his abduction by aliens called Talfamadorian’s. These aliens hold him on their planet and then release him later. The ingenious narration of the book makes us actually believe that we travel from 1965, back to Dresden in

1944. Billy Pilgrim’s problems in the present obviously stemmed from his horrific experience in Dresden. In the book, he later becomes an optometrist and while flying to a convention with 30 other optometrists, the plane crashes and everyone dies except him. While he is recuperating in the hospital from a fractured skull, his wife dies of carbon monoxide poisoning. Billy Pilgrim is a protagonist who Vonnegut modeled after himself. The name Billy Pilgrim itself implies that he represents an ordinary man in a different sort of “pilgrimage,” as you see him at every stage of his life. It is obvious by the second chapter of the book that Billy Pilgrim, is in fact, a type of Pilgrim going into places he has never been before, for a cause he believes in enough to be willing to